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Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas

We traveled the day before Christmas, coming home from an overnight visit to Linda's parents. We had a nice but brief time there, although when the whole family was together I think that was a bit taxing for Linda. Ellie got to see her favorite cousins (once removed). Ellie got a tea set and Cinderella doll from her grandparents, and both have been well played-with already.

Yesterday we opened gifts at home. I half expected Ellie to be up at 5am telling me that Santa had come. But when she realized I was still asleep, she went back to her room and played quietly. I woke up anyway. She told me she was just waiting for me to get up. Can you believe that? On any ordinary day (like today) she'd just be bugging me to get up. On the one day when anyone would expect it, she let me sleep in instead.

Linda was up already. She always wakes early, although yesterday she was a bit overtired from traveling the day before.

Christmas wasn't too fancy. We opened a few movies and games. Ellie got some new clothes and some pens and markers. We had turkey (very small) and mashed potatoes for lunch, which sounds like a lot, but really wasn't much fuss. Ellie insisted that we use the little plastic cups from her tea set for the water. So we had china plates but sipped our water from pink plastic oversize thimbles.

We watched movies for much of the day, starting with Barbie's Pegasus movie. Ellie likes it, but The Princess and the Pauper was better. We also watched a new VegiTales movie and an episode of Stargate (which was a gift from Karen).

Today we're having another quiet day, but I think I may see if any of Ellie's friends are home this afternoon to play.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Accessibility improvement

All of our cupboard doors have knobs on them. It took surprising longer than you would expect to do them all, but they look good. Now I'm going to have to buckle down and get pulls on the cupboard drawers.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Good with tape

Ellie and I wrapped the first gift of the season today. We had picked something up yesterday for Linda. Ellie helped, which is to say that she applied tape while I folded and tucked paper.

She had so much fun that while we were out for lunch we got a second little gift to wrap. But Ellie wanted there to be a present for her under the tree. I suggested that since it is hard for Mom to go shopping that Ellie and I get a little gift to be for Ellie from Mom and we'd wrap it and put it under the tree. Although Ellie knows what it is, Mom will be surprised still when it gets opened.

She really liked that idea, so we did it. The great part about it is that the idea for the particular gift came from Linda. So it really is to Ellie from Mom.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ellie's first concert

Ellie had a Christmas concert tonight at the Lutheran church. She was so excited she nearly exploded I think. I don't know how much she actually sang. Some. She seemed to be torn between making faces and singing. I recognized immediately that this is a trait she inherited from me and not from Linda.

Linda came. We brought her wheelchair since it makes everything go faster. Otherwise we'd have a long slow walk, and it's a slope (either up or down) most of the way. Still there was some walking, since the parking lot is gravel and there are no cutouts in the sidewalk curbs. So she had to walk at least to the sidewalk (on gravel in the dark). Except for complaining, I don't think was that bad.

It could have been harder if we had been a bit later. Lutherans seem not to be able to distinguish colors and symbols, at least when they are parking their cars in front of the blue signs with the wheelchair symbol on them (or parking so close as to make those spaces unusable).

The concert was taped by the local TV station. I'll have to get a copy to show to Ellie's boyfriends when she's 16.

Best thing since sliced bread

I called to have my second phone line disconnected this afternoon. I intend to take the savings and apply them to our cable internet service. Personally, I don't like the phone company very much. It goes back many years, but I have a good memory.

You would think that the job of the customer service person is to help you get your service disconnected. This is not their job. Their job is to convince you to keep your service (and perhaps add some new features). But I am steadfast in these situations. Polite, but unyielding.

My favorite offer, which the phone representative recommended was vacation service. Apparently, they can make your phone line not work for the low low price of $3/month. I need to start a business where I offer to bill people small amounts for doing nothing. I'd be happy to do nothing for you for $2.75 per month.

The full phone only costs something like $9 per month anyway, but the extra fees cost something like $10 more. That includes things like federal end user line charge, which isn't a federal charge at all (just a charge that some federal rule says the phone company can charge you and keep for themselves). You can bet my $3 phone line was actually going to cost $13--and it wouldn't even work.

At the end of the conversation, they offered me $10 off my $9 line for 6 months, which they pointed out is like getting the line free for six months. For insight into why that isn't like free, see the previous paragraph.

The very last question was some kind of survey thing. Would you say you receive excellent service from SBC? My answer: let's just say I told the truth.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Keeping busy

Perhaps you'd like to know what were up to? You read the blog don't you. Let's see. Yesterday, the cable company came out and hooked up high speed internet for us. I think I'm the last person in the family to do that. Most people assume I have it because I do tech work at the university. Today they would actually be correct.

Ellie and I made hot chocolate tonight. We made it recently this week and it was pretty fun, so I suggested doing it again. I probably should have skipped it. Ellie is entertained by any activity exactly one time. She did pretty well, but I think we should wait a while.

I try to get her involved in cooking when I can. Sometimes it is fun stuff, like tapioca pudding. Sometimes I have her help make dinner, or just set the table. She generally likes to be involved, and I figure when she turns 7 or so I can turn the cooking over to her. Okay, so that's a joke. I just like her to be part of things.

We played checkers tonight. It's one of the better games for us because there are so few rules. She won, partly because I helped and partly because of a lucky break. She'd have never actually reasoned out the endgame, so I coached her to her victory. Left entirely to her own devices I think I could have creamed her 6 kings with the lone king I was pushing around at the end.

I put a new light switch in the bathroom. Linda has noted that Ellie often leaves the light on in the bathroom, especially in the early evening when Linda is in bed or getting ready for bed. So I replaced the switch with one that is compatible with our remote controls. Now we can turn the light off from either remote or computer (as well as at the switch itself). It means Linda doesn't have to get out of bed to turn off the light. As a bonus, the light can be dimmed by remote, although I'm not sure why we would do that. There's no need to create a romantic mood in the bathroom really.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

What's happening at the Bindner house

I wish I hadn't left my camera at work this week. I walked into Ellie's room to find that she has made a red overnight suitcase into her bed. She is laying in it on the floor with her legs dangling out onto pillows. Her favorite blankets are covering her.

Linda and I are having a quiet evening playing Boggle.

Monday, December 05, 2005

What computer geeks do for fun

We have 7 lights in our house that can be controlled by remote control. We have two remotes, and one plug-in controller, but yesterday Linda mentioned that sometimes she would like to be able to change the lights when she's at the computer.

Well, that's just the kind of puzzle computer geeks like to solve. I am so delighted with my solution, that I've been telling all of my computer friends about it. Naturally I wrote a program that can control the lights from the computer (via a 4th control that I hadn't yet mentioned).

I designed it to work just like the physical remotes that we have. I'm so pleased with how it looks and how easy it is, that I'm posting a picture of the program. Nothing tells the story like a screen shot:

X10 controller

Naturally I've already thought of ways to use what I learned at work. That happens with fun a lot.